Monday, March 2, 2015
Tags Posts tagged with "christian ponder"

christian ponder

The history of the Minnesota Vikings seems riddled with missed opportunities at the quarterback position.  The one that sticks out to me most was when they successfully cashed in on Daunte Culpepper by shipping him to Miami, but then ignoring the fact that Drew Brees could actually be acquired without losing any draft picks at all.  That one still stings, to me.

Due to an injury that season, however, Brees was anything but a “sure thing.”  The Chargers offered their starter an incentivized contract which was a clear signal that they were not convinced he could return and continue to play at a high level.  Brees ultimately signed with New Orleans, however, and he has amassed some the greatest passing totals the league has ever seen (and a Super Bowl ring).

These opportunities to sign a relatively young quarterback, who has shown some ability to win in the NFL, don’t come along very often.  Usually they come with some extreme doubt (Peyton Manning’s neck) or some sort of baggage (Mike Vick’s… ummm… issues), and the risk is often too much for a conservative front office to stomach.

In the case of Josh Freeman, and his recent release from the Tampa Bay Bucs, Rick Spielman and the Vikings need to decide if the free agent quarterback is just another wasted talent that will soon be irrelevant, or a talented signal-caller capable of leading a team to greatness.  Greg Schiano of the Bucs obviously thinks Freeman doesn’t have what it takes, but Schiano also isn’t currently in a position to be deemed sane, let alone a good judge of character.

Freeman’s standout season was 2010, when he started all 16 games and threw for 25 touchdowns and only six interceptions.  He showed up in a couple of big games and appeared to be well on his way to stardom, with broadcasters raving about him at any given chance.  2011 was a disappointment, however, but he improved during the 2012 season.  His improvement wasn’t enough to save his head coach’s job, though, and it is crystal clear that Schiano is ready to move on without him.

What teams like the Vikings need to determine is simple:  Is Freeman capable of playing like he did in 2010 or was that just a mirage?  Now that Freeman is able to be had at a relatively minimal investment, some team will endeavor to find out the answer to that question.

Acquiring a guy like Freeman would put the Vikings in an awkward position.  “Starter” Christian Ponder would surely feel slighted by the move and Matt Cassel would clearly see the writing on the wall, too.  Meanwhile, McLeod Bethel-Thompson is someone the Vikings have invested a lot of time into developing and they might not be too eager to send him packing.

What the front office has to realize, however, is that they are about five months away from having to invest heavily, once again, in the quarterback position.  Cassel’s contract option puts him basically on a one-year deal, while Ponder has a long ways to go before he can prove he’s dependable, let alone capable.  Today’s NFL, simply put, demands more out of the quarterback position than these two have to offer.

The presence of these three quarterbacks, and perhaps the desire to further evaluate them, might make Minnesota a good landing spot for Freeman.  It is very difficult to join an NFL team and immediately become their mid-season starter, and no team should expect that upon signing Freeman.  Instead, they should let him get acclimated, get to know him as a person and as a quarterback, and do their due diligence on him to see if he might be reliable for 2014 and beyond.  After starting the season 1-3, and facing a very tough schedule down the stretch, I would see little downside in the Vikings taking such an approach.

The worst that could happen is the Vikings add another name to their growing list of failed quarterback experiments, and after so many years of being desensitized to that I would be willing to just say:  Hey, at least this one didn’t cost us any picks.

Well, the Warwas clan has officially purchased their first house and are all moved in, albeit with much chaos and little organization.  Very importantly, however, we have our DirecTV tuned in and the internet working.  In other words:  I’m back.

I’ve missed a lot in the last couple of weeks, so here are a gathering of thoughts for you to chew on during this (yawn!) bye week.

QUARTERBACKS

Christian Ponder’s bruised rib seems sketchy.  Almost as sketchy as expecting Matt Cassel to be any sort of real answer.  Both players are failing the “eye test” and the Vikings delayed the inevitable, via a well-timed sack of Big Ben, which is blowing up the quarterback position and starting fresh in 2014.  I still firmly believe it is coming.

BILL MUSGRAVE

Remember when the Vikings reportedly pursued Josh McDaniels as their offensive coordinator before settling for Musgrave?  I find myself wondering if Christian Ponder’s career path would be different under new direction.  I also find myself wondering if Musgrave’s scheme is too complicated for the now-truncated preparation period NFL teams have in the offseason and preseason under the new CBA.  His offense seems to have started slow two years in a row now.

THE DEFENSE

Things are such a mess right now on defense that I can’t even begin to pinpoint what exactly is going wrong.  Is the idea that they could gamble more backfiring despite Xavier Rhodes being as good as advertised?  Did the defensive line really age that much in one year?  Are the linebackers just not talented?  Is the scheme outdated?  You tell me, because I’m at a loss, and apparently Alan Williams is, too.

 A fractured rib will sideline Christian Ponder on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers in London. Matt Cassel will get his first start for the 0-3 Minnesota Vikings as he takes on his former head coach Todd Haley who is now an assistant with the Steelers.

 Cassel is still considered the “backup” to Ponder… but a good performance could land him an extended opportunity to lead the Vikings after next week’s bye week.

 Cassel has started three times against the Steelers in his career. He has thrown for 571 yards, two touchdowns, three picks, completed under 50% of his attempts and has a 60.5 passer rating during those games.

 Those stats look very Ponderish to me, so I guess I will just keep my optimism to myself and hope for the best. Let’s just say I have my fingers crossed that a Vikings’ wide reciever will finally catch a touchdown pass.

 Go Vikings!

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With plenty of blame to go around in the Vikings’ disappointing 0-3 start, fans are calling for a change at quarterback.

For those at Mall of America Field on Sunday afternoon, fans were heard chanting for backup quarterback Matt Cassel at various moments of the game—including the final play when quarterback Christian Ponder was sacked to end the game.

Ponder is reportedly on a much shorter leash than people think, but head coach Leslie Frazier said after the game that he doesn’t foresee making a switch at quarterback after he watches film from the game.

The 2013 NFL season has started off on the wrong foot for the Minnesota Vikings, and head coach Leslie Frazier is willingly taking the blame after dropping the first 2 games on the road against division opponents. I am all for Frazier being more hands on and establishing a stronger vocal approach with his players and staff, but I wouldn’t say he is the right person to blame for the losses.

 The Vikings have played hard, overcame some adversities, made plays, and put themselves in a position to win both games, but miscues, inconsistent play and poor execution has shown it’s ugly head much too often for the Vikings to secure a win. The team has had moments where they have played very well and have looked the part of a playoff caliber team, yet other moments of blunder and mayhem have haunted an otherwise solid overall effort.

 Fans can point the blame in a number of directions up and down the Vikings roster, but no player is more scrutinized than 3rd year QB Christian Ponder. After 2 games this year, Ponder’s play continues to resemble something you would see in a Robert Louis Stevenson mystery-horror novel.

 A 67 QB rate with twice as many interceptions as touchdown passes would scare the… pigskin off most football coaches. But not coach Frazier. Despite rumors of a short leash, Frazier stuck with Ponder through the good and the ugly at a rainy Soldier Field.

 With 3:02 left in the first half against the Bears, and the game knotted at 14 each, Ponder threw a pick six on 1st and 10 from the Vikings 31 yard line. Most coaches might have been tempted to pulled the plug at that point on the struggling QB. However, after the interception, Frazier went over and looked into Ponders eyes, said a few encouraging words and saw enough confidence in his QB to stick with him. Ponder went on to complete 12 of his next 18 passes including a 20 touchdown strike to Kyle Rudolph. Three nice second half drives led to Blair Walsh field goals that capped a solid second half performance.

 So which Christian Ponder will we see verses the Cleveland Browns this weekend?

 The Browns are 0-2 and have scored a combined 16 points in 2 games… so, this would be a great time for the “good” Mr. Ponder to make an extended appearance on Sunday. However, if the “ugly” Mr. Ponder shows up, the home crowd boo-birds might come out in full force. Will Leslie Frazier continue to be patient and wait around for the “good” Mr Ponder to come and go? Or could a more hands-on approach by “Dr.” Frazier be the answer to controlling the mysterious erratic play of young Mr. Ponder?

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